An archaeologist has discovered an ancient Pompeii mural that shows the queen of Sparta from Greek mythology having sex with the Roman god Jupiter, disguised as a swan.

Leda being impregnated by the god in swam form used to be a fairly common home decoration, but archaeological park director Massimo Osanna called this fresco exceptional, because it was painted to make it appear as if she was looking at whoever entered the bedroom.

Osanna told Italian news agency ANSA: ‘Leda watches the spectator with a sensuality that’s absolutely pronounced.’

The mural’s details include a depiction of Leda protecting the swan with her cloak as the bird sits on her lap.


Osanna noted its context of the Greek ‘myth of love, with an explicit sensuality in a bedroom where, obviously beside sleep, there could be other activities.

’The art, which still has its colours intact, was discovered Friday during ongoing work to consolidate the ancient city’s structures after rain and wear-and-tear in past years caused some ruins to collapse, the tourist site’s officials said.

The bedroom is located near a corridor by the entrance-way of an upscale domus, or home, where another ancient mural was discovered earlier this year, said the archaeological park, which is part of the Italian Culture Ministry.


Leda was said to have given birth to children fathered by the god Zeus, the Greek version of Jupiter, and by a mortal king of Sparta.

According to Greek mythology, her children included Helen of Troy and the twins Castor and Pollux.

Osanna said one theory is that the owner of the home was a rich merchant who wanted to give the impression he was culturally advanced by incorporating myth-inspired frescoes.

Because of safety concerns, unexcavated parts of the domus will probably remain that way, ANSA reported.

Archaeologists are considering removing both frescos found in the home to a place where ‘they can be protected and shown to the public,’ Osanna said.

Pompeii’s sprawling, partially excavated grounds are one of Italy’s top tourist attractions.

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